At the beginning - and unofficially - the Sienese race was run first with bulls and later with buffalos. The "bufalata" was organized for large family parties, papal elections and when Grand Dukes would visit the city. Then, on July 14, 1644, the Goose (Oca) contrada won with Destrampo riding the horse Ottorino di Grosseto, competing against six other neighbourhoods, and the rest was history. Still today, twice a year, the city’s 17 contrade - based on the borders established in 1729 - race to win the Palio, a grandiose strip of cloth painted by both Italian and foreign artists. The Palio depicts the Virgin Mary, protector of Siena and whose cloak, legend says, is piazza del Campo, where the race is run.
Ten of the neighbourhoods compete. The ten horses are chosen at random, ridden bareback by jockeys, making the three laps around the piazza feel like infinity. A shaken horse can also win, so long as it crosses the finish line.
Every year | July 2 & August 16
Around 7:00 pm
Piazza del Campo | 53100 Siena